Archive for June, 2014

Eat Cake & Dance

I have been asked to do many things in my life but last weekend seen a first in two things. We left Linda on Saturday morning and headed to spend most of the day at John and Cara Martin’s joint 30th Birthday party, of course they weren’t the stars of the show by any means. Their gorgeous little daughter Isabella was the main attraction as she was dedicated by Paul Hudson. Many family and friends came together to celebrate the events which were held at the village hall. The first of my new challenges was as a judge in their very own Great British bake off, I was Paul Holywood and yes, you guessed, there also was a Mary Berry. It was a fun occasion but there were 29 entries and we had to taste every single cake. We both took it very seriously giving points on presentation and taste but I was totally stuffed when we finished. 

Mary Berry's celebration cake

Mary Berry’s celebration cake

Paul Holywood's unentered dessert

Paul Holywood’s unentered dessert

Great British Bake off

Great British Bake off

Judges hard at work

Judges hard at work

On Sunday we had the privilege of visiting two really exciting Birmingham churches. In the morning we were with Pastor Stuart Blount and his wife Amanda at Christian Life Centre. We spoke at both their morning services which had about 300 people at each. It was wonderful to share with a church that has invested in the work in Cambodia for many years. Especially on Missions Sunday where we remembered the darkest day in Elim history, remembering the Vumba massacre of our own Elim missionaries in Rhodesia which is now known as Zimbabwe. After church we had a really lovely time sharing with Stuart and Amanda over lunch along with Paul and Greta Hudson.

 

In the evening we went to Kingstanding church which is led by Pastor Jonathan Skelton and his assistant Sarah Whittleson. Again there was a good turn out and we had a very blessed time in a very modern lively exciting meeting. It was so thrilling to be in churches that are full of life, like Sellyoaks the week before; Birmingham is blessed with some amazing churches. At the end of church in Kingstanding we were challenged to a dance off – Esther with her traditional Khmer dance against me and my Riverdance. It was not necessarily the most graceful thing you have ever seen but as I’m sure those that know me will know Esther was never going to win this battle.

 

On Monday we had the privilege to spend some time at our headquarters where Esther helped the team with some admin while I went to my first Ministry in Training conference. The conference was excellent and I came away with lots of things I learnt or was reminded off. I believe when you get such good teaching that God wants us to go and impart onto others. I am excited about the things God put on my heart for Phnom Penh Elim church. I want to go on record by thanking the General Superintendent Pastor John Glass for an amazing learning experience.

 

I would like to say to everybody that is either on the mission field or in missions in the local church that we have the most amazing office staff. We are truly blessed and it is not an easy job. We believe every missionary should spend one day at HQ to see how much the staff do for us and how difficult at times their jobs can be. The girls and John have only ever got the missionaries best interest at heart and I certainly have seen that they go over and above for us all. It was also really special to spend time with our boss Paul Hudson, an amazing leader with an incredible vision. Being with Paul was fun and we left Malvern fired up for the next chapter back home in Cambodia!

 

We headed off to our next and final stop in England, where we are visiting our good friends Sue and Gez Nicholls from Dewsbury. Our itinerary is packed over the next few days with a radio interview, a youth fun night, a missions fundraiser, two church speaking engagements Harrogate Elim on Sunday morning and then Dewsbury Elim in the evening. As our time in England comes to a close we pray that all those who have heard about the work of Elim Missions in Cambodia will be challenged to get involved in trying to make a difference wherever their mission field may be. Please pray for us over the weekend as we prepare to head back to spend some quality time with family and friends.

 

Greetings from Barry

Last Sunday morning we were privileged to share at Selly Oak Elim Church. We are looking forward to Pastor Iain Hesketh visiting Cambodia later this year and it was great to meet him in person as we have already skyped before. It was also very special to meet Neville and Kay Walker who founded the work of Elim Missions in Cambodia, and they were greatly encouraged by what God is doing in Phnom Penh. The church was very supportive as they purchased greeting cards and key rings made by the girls in the Be Free program.

Selly Oak Elim Church

Selly Oak Elim Church

Neville, Kay and son Peter

Neville, Kay and son Peter

We enjoyed a time of fellowship over lunch with Pastor Iain and his wife Rachel, Neville and Kay, and Bill and Maureen who accompanied us and by now could do our presentation for us. We then travelled back to Bill and Maureen’s home for a quick cuppa and catch up with their son Andrew, daughter in law Nicki and family. It was only a brief pit stop as we were returning to Longton Elim to take part in their evening service. We spoke at a missions event they had organised on the previous Saturday and it was good to return to some familiar faces. In last week’s blog we mentioned Jean, their amazing missions secretary and her young helper Hannah. On Sunday evening Hannah helped at our Be Free stand selling the cards and keyrings and before we left gave us a beautiful card which she herself had made. I am looking forward to showing it to the girls in Be Free and we will put it on our notice board remembering Hannah in our prayers as she is also praying for us.

Hannah, a wee star

Hannah, a wee star

We skyped our three key leaders on Monday morning – Nita: manager of the ELC, Sokim: manager of Be Free and Sarak who is overseeing the church activities. All the staff are keeping well, the Be Free girls showed us new Christmas tree decorations that they have made and we sang to one of the trainees who celebrated her birthday that day. We have been sending the staff some photographs from when we have been sharing in the UK and they are so encouraged by the churches and individuals who are praying for them.

Then we bade farewell to Bill and Maureen, thanking them for all their hospitality, chauffeuring and itinerary planning. We will see them briefly next week when we return a car that has kindly been loaned to us. They also are returning to Cambodia at the end of August so it was good to spend time discussing what would be beneficial for Bill and Maureen to do with the staff and leadership team when they are with us.

We then made our way to Cardiff; I was able to enjoy the beautiful scenery while David concentrated on the directions given to him by ‘tomtom’. Our destination for the week is Barry, just outside of Cardiff, staying with our dear friend Linda who is a regular visitor to Cambodia. Her home is in a beautiful location overlooking the beach and we have enjoyed a few walks and lunch or coffee sitting outside in the sunshine. Most of this week has been a rest but we were delighted to go to the small group which Linda attends each week in Vale Village Church in Wenvoe, a church plant out of Cardiff City Temple. Gary & Lesley Smith, the leaders, were so welcoming to us as was everybody, and we were humbled and blessed as we shared about the work and those we care for back in Cambodia.

View from our room

View from our room

Barry beach

Barry beach

David and Linda enjoying the view

David and Linda enjoying the view

On Thursday we went to Hobbycraft to purchase some resources to take back with us. The girls in Be Free love it when we need to go to the market for supplies and I would have loved for them to have been shopping with me yesterday. They would have been like children in a sweet shop! It will be like Christmas morning when we return and show them all the new crafting goodies enabling a wider range of products to be made, watch this space!

Crafters Delight

Crafters Delight

On Thursday evening we had a real treat of going to the Millennium Centre to watch War Horse, based on the novel written in 1982 by Michael Morpurgo. It was a powerfully moving drama, with magnificent artistry by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company bringing breathing, galloping, full-scale horses to life on the stage. We thoroughly enjoyed the show and it was very special to do something that we don’t get the chance to normally. We have loved our time in Barry and really enjoyed spending time with Linda, her two sons Jason and Andrew, and soon to be daughter in law Bethany. We wish Andrew and Bethany every happiness for their future wedding and we look forward to seeing photographs from their big day. Thank you Linda for your hospitality, kindness and looking after us so well, we look forward to returning the favour when you visit us later this year.

Today we leave Wales and return to England; tomorrow we are sharing at the two morning services at Christian Life Centre, Birmingham and in the evening we are speaking at Kingstanding Elim church. Sunday 22nd June is Missions Sunday, an important date in the history of Elim as it is the closest Sunday to the anniversary of the tragedy of the Vumba massacre in 1978, where 9 Elim missionaries and 4 children were martyred. The Be Church Campaign is to specifically honour their memory asking Elim churches to sow into the seeds of these martyrs, taking up a gift day offering to raise money for the next season of global church planting. Paul Hudson, Elim International Mission’s Director, shares more about the Be Church Campaign in this short video http://ht.ly/y5OZp

This week a wonderful lady celebrates her birthday and we both want to wish my amazing Mum a very special day. We are sorry we aren’t there to celebrate with you but we will have a belated celebration in a few weeks’ time. We love you and will be thinking about you on your birthday as we do every day!

 

Busy times on tour!

It is always exciting to meet up with old friends and this week has been no exception. We have had a friendship with Stafford Elim Church for many years now and really do feel like part of the family when we visit. Bill and Maureen Crawford were our Pastors in Bangor for about 12 years but have always remained close friends and faithful supporters of us and the work in Cambodia. We also have a good friendship with Pastors Ian and Katrina Dunphy and it has been lovely to catch up with them also.

We want to start by saying a massive thank you to Bill and Maureen for looking after us so well, Bill has been our chauffeur and also our tech person at each meeting we have taken. Last Saturday we went to Longton Elim and spoke at their monthly missions group, it really blessed our hearts to see a group of about 40 people coming out to hear about Cambodia on a Saturday afternoon, admittedly when you saw the cakes that their missions secretary Jean had made you would soon realise we were not what was drawing the crowd.

Jean, the mission's secretary at Longton Elim

Jean, the mission’s secretary at Longton Elim

Jean and her wonderful helper Hannah

Jean and her wonderful helper Hannah

 On Sunday we spoke in the morning service at Stafford Elim and as I already said we loved meeting up with so many good people who support us regularly in prayer and financially too. We had lunch with the Dunphy’s and then headed to Crewe Elim where we met up with Pastor Andy Taylor and his wife Susan. Again we had a good night sharing and were happy to bring Andy up to date with the exciting things we are seeing in Phnom Penh. 

On Monday we went to Brickhouse Elim which was on the far side of Birmingham and were warmly greeted by Pastor Mark and his wife Anne. As we arrived a torrential rain storm came down and it reminded us very much of home and the many people who as rainy season is getting into full swing will be without proper homes to sleep in or live, please pray for those who live in slum villages in Cambodia. We had a lovely time sharing about the work after we had bacon butties, what a way to start a meeting! It really blesses our hearts when we go to new churches and find out that they have been praying for us and raising funds by selling cards and hearts which the Be Free girls have made. On Monday night we went with Bill and Maureen to the home of a lovely older couple from Stafford Elim called Graham and Iris, we again were spoiled and had a really good chat. We spent the first part of the evening touring their glorious garden which Esther thoroughly enjoyed.

Brickhouse Elim

Brickhouse Elim

Graham & Iris and their beautiful garden

Graham & Iris and their beautiful garden

Tuesday was busy, busy, busy. We started with a walk round Stafford town centre where Esther got a Starbucks. We then returned to the church to have a meeting about Cambodia with Ian and Katrina followed by sharing in the Stafford Elim prayer meeting. From there we headed to Silverdale Elim and were greeted by Pastor Edwin Cotter. Edwin is Pastor Ray Cotter’s younger brother and he was a pleasure to spend time with, he is also uncle to my very good friend Jonny Hamill. As many of you will know Jonny and his wife Jill live in Cambodia, they will be reading this and we just want to say we are missing you loads along with all our Khmer friends and family and of course wee Meg! We spoke at Silverdale’s afternoon meeting where there was about 50-60 people present and we had much fun telling stories and sharing of God’s blessings in the work. That night we got to share at Bill and Maureen’s house group, it was fun to meet new people and answer lots of questions; we especially want to thank Theo for all his interest and questions!

Silverdale Elim

Silverdale Elim

Wednesday was a lot more relaxing for me while Esther set up office at the local Starbucks and started writing an article for the Ireland mission’s magazine. I went out with Bill and Ian to play par 3 golf at a really interesting wee course. I won’t say who won both rounds but what I will say is it wasn’t Bill or Ian. We all thoroughly enjoyed it, as they say it’s not the winning it’s the taking part that matters. As a Spurs supporter I apply this theory to my daily life! On Wednesday night we had supper with Trevor and Christine and it was one of those nights where we could just relax and have some laughs. 

 On Thursday we called in to see one of our good friends from over the years Anne Ramsey. Sadly since the last time we were in the UK her husband Bill passed away. Anyone that knew Bill would know what a gentleman he was and it was strange to not hear his stories, but the memories go on. Anne was busy in the garden when we arrived and it was just lovely catching up with her, we are hoping she will come and visit us one day soon in Cambodia.

With special friend Anne

With special friend Anne

 On Thursday night the World Cup started, Esther could hardly contain her excitement; I just want to tell you my thoughts in a nutshell. My head says Brazil will win but my heart is with England so I will be supporting them. The outsiders are Belgium so any of those three are worth the watching, well certainly Brazil and Belgium! 

Last night we were delighted to visit the home of Dave and Debbie, members of Stafford Elim church, along with Bill, Maureen, Ian and Katrina.  Debbie cooked up a delicious meal – roast lamb for the main course followed by lemon cheesecake and cherry bakewell.  The cheesecake was so good I had to have two helpings, huge compliments to the chef on a magnificent meal.  Thank you Dave and Debbie for your wonderful hospitality and for making us feel so much at home.  Debbie also comes from Northern Ireland and greeted us at church on Sunday with a big  ‘what about ye’ !

As I close please pray for our staff and church that they will have good health while we are away. Many of you already know of Sokim who manages Be Free Cambodia. Sokim has been very sick this week and has been in hospital since Wednesday, we just heard this morning that she is now home and we thank God for the hospital team and the girls in Be Free who helped take care of her. It is hard to be away at times like these so join with us praying for Sokim and all the other staff for health and safety.

This Sunday we are in Birmingham at Sellyoaks Elim with Pastor Iain Heskieth in the morning and back in Longton Elim with Pastor Howard Drummond on Sunday evening, if you are in the surrounding area pop along and hear about what God is doing in Cambodia.

Planes, train and automobiles

On Saturday afternoon we landed on the beautiful island of Guernsey and we both agree that although this was our first visit we hope it won’t be our last. From the first sighting we took in from the aeroplane window we have fallen in love with the beauty of this island. The primary reason of our visit was to meet the team from Delancey Elim church who will be making their way to Cambodia in August on a short term mission trip. The second reason was to have some time to rest, relax and enjoy the island and we thank Delancey Elim for blessing us with a gift to make this possible.

First sight of Guernsey

First sight of Guernsey

Our hosts for the week were the parents of Nicole who is leading the team and we thoroughly enjoyed spending time with Richard and Annie and also getting to know their wonderful family. From our first meal when we were able to dine ‘al fresco’ in their beautiful garden we have been totally spoiled and treated like part of the family. We are of course part of God’s big family, I love that no matter where you go in the world there is a bond that unites us because of the faith we have in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Richard and Annie, our wonderful hosts and some of the sights we took in

Richard and Annie, our wonderful hosts and some of the sights we took in

On Sunday morning we were privileged to share about Cambodia with the folk in Delancey Elim church and for the first time meet most of the team members. Two of the team are students in university so we will meet them for the first time when they come through the arrival gates of Phnom Penh airport! Delancey Elim funded the playground project for the Early Learning Centre so it was wonderful to personally thank them for their giving which has made such a difference to the lives of the children and staff. We are looking forward to the team coming when they will complete the look of the playground by painting murals on the walls and then we will hold an official opening ceremony inviting family and friends of the ELC staff and children to join us. The team have seen photographs of the playground but it will be amazing for them to view it in real life and see for themselves how much the children enjoy it!

We also gave a report on the work of Elim Missions in Phnom Penh including the newly launched Be Free Cambodia project and the church were very supportive in purchasing greeting cards and key rings made by the staff and trainees. In the evening we were back at Delancey Elim for a united church service and once again we were thrilled to share about the work and the people that have a special place in our hearts.

Be Free table and Missions board

Be Free table and Missions board

Monday was a very special day for David as he celebrated his birthday which included lots of messages, cards, bars of Turkish delight and a birthday cake made with love by Annie and 3 year old Freya. Just as the candles were lit and we were ready to sing David received a call from Paul Hudson, our International Missions Director, ringing to wish him a Happy Birthday! The festivities carried on all day as we enjoyed lunch and a walk along the coast with the pastor of Delancey Elim, John and his wife Angie and then dinner with Richard, Annie and Nicole. We are glad it is only our luggage that gets weighed at the airport or we would definitely be getting charged with excess baggage!

Birthday celebrations

Birthday celebrations

Coastal walk

Coastal walk

Some of the delicious food we tasted

Some of the delicious food we tasted

On Tuesday night we met with the team members where we discussed their upcoming mission trip tackling subjects such as itinerary, culture, language and climate. The team is very enthusiastic and we are looking forward to hosting them and witnessing as they will not only be a blessing but will also be blessed during their time in Cambodia.

Our last evening in Guernsey comprised of eating fish and chips on the beach with Nicole, Richard and Annie followed by one more piece of banoffee at ‘Dix Neuf’ before returning home for a cuppa and eventually saying ‘see you in Cambodia’ to Nicole. A perfect end to a wonderful visit on the island.

Fish and chips never tasted better

Fish and chips never tasted better

We have absolutely loved our time in Guernsey, it is a beautiful part of the world and if you have never been we would encourage you to pay it a visit. The scenery is breathtaking, the flowers and gardens are beautiful, the cuisine is delicious and the people are amazing. Words cannot express how much we appreciate the hospitality and welcome we received from the Le Goupillot family. Thank you for making our stay so memorable and remember we have a guest room anytime you feel like visiting so we in turn can spoil you.

Yesterday it was a case of plane, train, and automobiles as we travelled from Guernsey to Stafford which will be our base for the next 9 days. We are thrilled to be staying with our dear friends and former pastor Bill and Maureen Crawford. They have visited Cambodia once and are returning again in September so it is good to have this time with them. We have a busy itinerary as we will be sharing at a Missions Day in Longton this afternoon, then speaking in Stafford Elim tomorrow morning and Crewe Elim tomorrow night. We are also looking forward to catching up with friends we have got to know over the years.

Please remember our staff and church family back in Phnom Penh in your prayers. We skype Sokim, Sarak and Nita every Monday to see how they are doing and the departments they are managing – Be Free, Church and Early Learning Centre. They are doing an amazing job as situations have arisen, and they have been there to help and support those in difficulty. We value them and pray they know God’s strength and wisdom as they lead in their area of ministry.